KABUL, Afghanistan –Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense hosted the quarterly Women in Security Advisory Committee (WSAC) April 18, which focused on two specific topics: election planning and the Afghan National Police Family Response Units.
“The past few weeks were punctuated by two happy events. We are progressing, albeit at a slower pace than expected,” said First lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani. “Patience and perseverance are some of the requirements to work in the Afghan environment. We celebrated phase one of the New Police Town that will provide apartments for women in the police force. The Ministry of Defense witnessed the unveiling of plans for a pediatrics and women’s wellness clinic and a daycare center to be built at the Kabul National Military Hospital.”
With parliamentary elections scheduled for later this year, the committee has put an emphasis on the importance of the Government of Afghanistan setting the conditions for maximum participation of women as candidates, voters, and as part of the overall security effort. Resolute Support provides crucial support in this complex task.
“The basic fact is that women have a rightful place in the elections of Afghanistan as guaranteed in the Constitution – not just as voters and candidates – but as election officials, security officials, observers,” said Grant Kippen, chief electoral advisor for the United Nations Electoral Support Team. “When it comes to elections, often solutions such as public awareness campaigns are only viewed with a short term focus in mind. While short-term solutions are valuable, what is really required is a much longer term focus with multi-year programming in place in order to really make a difference.”
Family Response Units (FRU) are a unique initiative within the Afghan National Police (ANP), assigning ANP personnel to provide the initial care and reporting for women involved in episodes of violence, largely domestic.
“Family Response Units are a critical element of the ANP first response to assist women who have no option but to flee the family home due to violence. The fundamental issue for the FRUs is that they are not fully resourced and equipped to assist those community members in need,” said Royal Australian Air Force Group Capt. Kirrily Dearing, senior advisor for gender. “We must also ensure that any report of family violence is then properly documented, investigated and passed through to the judicial system. This is an area that needs constant, dedicated focus.”
“Family Response Units will be added to the model police district concept, and when its capacity increases, it will be a powerful tool to increase public trust in the police,” added Gen. Nicholson.
The committee is chaired by Gen. Nicholson, with the First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani serving as honorary chair. Members of the committee include Afghanistan’s ministers of defense and interior; ambassadors or senior civilian representatives from Norway, Italy, Canada, Resolute Support, and the European Union; United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s senior representative; as well as Afghanistan’s minister of women’s affairs, deputy of the High Peace Council, and the chairperson for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
“Secure, inclusive, and credible elections in October will not only help show the progress and raise the legitimacy of the National Unity Government, but also increase social pressure on the enemy,” said Gen. Nicholson. “Women’s participation is critical in the upcoming elections.”
The meeting supported the WSAC’s main priorities of monitoring and advising on efforts toward the meaningful integration and participation of women in the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. The committee provides a forum for the exchange of information on plans, policies, projects and challenges related to the integration of women within the security forces, and sets the stage to forge the way forward on ensuring the women entering the security sectors do so with the requisite skill sets and opportunities for career advancement, allowing their full participation in the country’s peace process. It is a joint effort, with shared responsibilities and interests, between the government of Afghanistan and Resolute Support.
Resolute Support is a NATO-led, non-combat mission. It was launched on Jan. 1, 2015, following the conclusion of the previous NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission, and the assumption of full security responsibility by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Its purpose is to help the Afghan security forces and institutions develop the capacity to defend Afghanistan and protect its citizens in a sustainable manner.